A letter to IES Santiago Spring 2023, Thank you.

As my time in Santiago reached its end, I found myself very sentimental. 

Upon going to Chile, I had a lot of doubts and questions for myself. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make friends when naturally I am more of an introvert who only has a handful of very close friends. But going to South America all alone meant that I had to put in the extra work to meet new people and form those new connections. 

I decided and made sure that I actively participated in conversations and activities, regardless of my fear of being socially awkward or anxious, so that I could continue building the relationships that I so desired. The response that I received from the Spring 2023 participants blew my mind. I was surprised to be surrounded by people who were so genuine, kind, caring and loving. It was so easy to talk to everyone and relate to many things, especially the different emotions that came with studying abroad. 

I have been thinking about what exactly I want to say, but it is so hard to put all my emotions into words. I just feel so thankful, blessed, lucky, loved, joyful, and have been able to form a new family. Despite the distances and different stages of life that we are all on, I know the magic that our group has and will forever be present in my life.

Here, I would like to take some time to thank all of the friends I made in Santiago, Chile who have made my experience less intimidating and extremely fulfilling. 

Amelie, Beaujena, David, Eliana, Gicel, Hollie, Isaac, James, Lydia, Maggie, Malcolm, Marlen, Michaela, Sam Boehm, Sam Waller, Sarahi, Shragvi, Sidney, Tania, Uni, Victoria, and Xan. Thank you. Thank you for being there without asking for anything in return. I hope that you all know that I am always in your corner! I deeply appreciate each and every one of you. 

Thank you Fran, Benja, and Felipe for being the best Chilean friends, including us, and going above and beyond for the IES students. 

Thank you Maricarmen, Angela, and Caroline for helping with anything study abroad related but also for inviting us with open arms into your own lives. 

Thank you to all these people mentioned that supported me from a distance when I returned to the US in May for graduation. With some being present for the watch party at Livinnx, others watching the live stream wherever they found themselves, my host family tuning in as well, the surprise dinner celebration, and the surprise donuts on behalf of the IES staff!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

With love, 


To Hope Students

If you have the opportunity to study abroad, go for it! If you are thinking about it, stop by Martha Miller and talk to the peer advisors. Listen to their story, see their emotions, and ask questions. It might be something scary and filled with emotions, but taking the risk might surprise you and will take you on a journey you least expected. You are supported at Hope and abroad as well! 

My journey has now come to an end. Thank you for taking the time to read my blogs and it was an honor to have been a blogger. Thank you Hope College. Thank you IES Abroad. Gracias Chile.

Published by Marilyn Orellana

Class of 2023 Spanish Major, Pre-Med, and Chemistry Minor IES Health Studies Program

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